May 6, 2019

Raising of Lazarus from the Dead

One of the most powerful examples of the Savior's love is the raising of Lazarus from the grave. The event took place just before the triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Jesus and His disciples were traveling to Jerusalem for the last time when a messenger was sent with word that Lazarus was sick; however, the Savior tarried for several days instead of rushing to heal Lazarus. When Jesus and the disciples finally arrived, Lazarus had been dead and in the tomb for four days (see John 11:1-45).

One of the first questions often asked is why would the Lord wait to heal Lazarus? Why would He prolong His coming when He knew that the hearts of Mary and Martha would both be broken? Though we do not know for sure why Jesus delayed His coming, there are several likely answers, each which teach of the love and compassion of the Savior.

First, by raising Lazarus from the dead after four days, Jesus demonstrated His true power over even the worst of enemies, that of death. Previously, the Savior had likewise raised two people from the dead, the young daughter of Jairus, and the only son of the widow of Nain. However, in each of these cases they had only been dead but a few hours. Dissenters could easily claim that those who had been raised, had only been sleeping. Yet in the case of Lazarus, there was no question as to the magnitude of Jesus' power.

Second, the miracle teaches of the Savior’s pure love for others, despite His all-knowing omniscience. The shortest verse found in scripture simply states "Jesus wept" (John 11:35). Volumes could be written about these simple, yet two powerful words. The Savior knew that He would raise Lazarus from the dead. He also knew that in just a few moments the two sisters, Mary and Martha would again be embracing their brother. Yet Jesus was in the moment, and felt their pain, even though He knew the power of the future.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, Jesus performed this miracle to help prepare His followers for His own death—an even more tragic death than Lazarus. One of the reasons Jesus may have wept is because He knew of the sorrow that His disciples soon would feel when they saw their Lord and Savior nailed to the cross. Just as the Savior knew that Lazarus would live again, Jesus also knew that He Himself would be resurrected. Yet for a short time, His followers would weep and not fully understand why their Savior had died. It seems that the Lord allowed Lazarus to die, to instill in His disciples a belief beforehand that truly nothing is impossible for the Lord. Through this miracle, the Savior gave His disciples hope for the future. Hope for the seemingly impossible. Hope when all would be lost.

Often in our own lives we might ask why the Lord has not answered our prayers despite having sought Him in faith and devotion. We may wonder why the Lord tarries instead of providing promised blessings. The story of Lazarus teaches us that the Savior’s timing is always perfect. Even though there are many moments when we think our prayers have gone unanswered, we can be assured that the Lord will come to us, weep with us, and embrace us until the miracle comes.